Basmati Blues: Twitter criticises Brie Larson film for 'white savior' complex, stereotypical portrayal of India

FP Staff

Nov,14 2017 20:59 15 IST

A shot of a goat kicking a foreign tourist, a white person trying to navigate India's cultural landscape and mannerism — if you thought that this was the description of a Hollywood movie from late 90s-early 2000 like Outsourced, you're wrong. This is Brie Larson's upcoming film Basmati Blues, which is due for release on 24 November.

In it, Brie Larson plays an American scientist who works for a company which produces genetically modified rice. She is sent to India to convince farmers to buy this rice, but soon realises that the rice is sterile, and then embarks on a mission to end the woes of these farmers. There's also the subplot of a romance with a local with a put-on accent in the narrative.

The film was shot many years ago, but that doesn't seem to have stopped people from criticising it for presenting a stereotypical picture of Indians and for telling the story through the lens of a white saviour, that is, a white character who saves the downtrodden or savages from harm. Outrage poured in after the trailer was released on Youtube.

They also commented on the absurdity of one scene where Larson's character whips out a microscope in an Indian train.

Some users, who are fans of Larson, an Oscar-winning actress (she won an Academy Award for her performance in Room), were mad at her for picking a film such as Basmati Blues.

Some came to her defense and said that she would never do such a film if it were offered to her now.

Some pointed out that the plot didn't need the intervention of a white person at all.

One of the producers of the film said that they never intended to offend anyone, and that the international trailer had led to a gross misinterpretation. "We have heard a number of voices that have understandably reacted to a trailer that is not representative of the film as a whole. Unfortunately, the international trailer has given the wrong impression of the film's message and heart. This movie is not about an American going abroad to solve India's problems. At its heart, this film is about two people who reach across cultures, fight against corporate greed, and find love. Basmati Blues is an ensemble musical romantic comedy. The film explores our responsibility for our actions and for each other, and attempts to do it in a disarming way, using music, comedy, and romance," said producer Monique Caulfield to Refinery 29.

She went on to say that the film is a "love letter to multiple eras of Bollywood cinema". But only time will tell if it is not another of Hollywoood's biased takes on the issues that India suffers from.